Boating with cats you ask yourself? It sounds completely insane right? Cats and water go together like pancakes and steak. It is just unheard of. Do cats like boats? Actually, cats have been sailing on boats for centuries and really do enjoy it. Back in the older days, cats were very handy on ships. Cats actually lived on boats with their owners for months at a time. They served the ship well by hunting mice and were also thought of as good luck charms. Come aboard and see what else cats have to offer while out at sea.
Safety First on the Boat
If you are planning on boating with your cat then you will need to prepare. As with any type of travel with your cat, his safety should be your first priority. One wrong move or accident and your cat can be gone forever. The first thing you need to consider is the possibility of your cat going overboard.
If your cat ever encounters this awful situation he better be prepared. The best way to prepare is to purchase a life jacket or harness. I recommend this life jacket from amazon. When finding the perfect PFD for your cat, personal flotation device, you will want to make sure that it fits snug. Make sure the life jacket does not restrict any of your cats movement. It’s also a good idea to purchase one that has a handle in the middle so you can easily pick up your cat out of the water with your hand or a pole with a hook.
Train Your Cat to Come
It would be a great idea to train your cat to come when he is called on in case of an emergency on the boat. One way of doing this is by clicker training your cat. Click here to read my article about how to clicker train your cat. Cats are different than dogs and will not come when called on and this is the best alternative. Simply carry your clicker with you at all times so you are always ready in case of danger.
Check the Weather Before Boating with Your Cat
You will want to check on the weather before sailing with your cat. If it’s going to be a long stormy trip, then it would be best if he stayed at home. Also any type of extreme weather conditions like extreme heat or cold should also be avoided. While on a boat, it is very easy for your cat to become dehydrated. Click here to read my article about preventing dehydration in your cat while adventuring. Proper hydration throughout the trip will keep your cat healthy.
Condition Your Cat to the Boat
This is similar to having your cat ride in a car. You will want to make sure you slowly acclimate him to the boat before going out for an extended period of time. Start by letting your cat roam freely on the boat while it is docked. Take your cat around the boat to all the different rooms and let him get his curiosity out. The last thing you want is your cat getting lost or stuck somewhere during a real trip. There are lots of places that your cat might choose to take a nap in. Any nook or cranny would tempt him to take a quick cat nap.
Before setting sail you can place various pieces of cat furniture and toys around the ship to help make him feel at home. The familiar scents on the furniture or blankets will help keep your cat calm during times he gets anxious. If at anytime you feel as if your cat shows signs of being scared, uncomfortable, or jumpy, it would be wise to take a step back to determine what may be causing the fright. You might also have to accept the fact that your cat might not like being on a boat at all. Not all cats are cut out for the sailing life.
Test the Waters with Your Cat
Another great idea is to introduce your cat to water. This will also give you a good indication of how well the PFD fits and how your cat will react with it on. Pick a place where he is close by your side in case of an emergency. Place him in the water to see if he paddles or has an all out panic attack. Try not to leave him in the water too long because it does take a lot of energy out of your cat due to his heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
Sea Sickness and Cats
Sea sickness happens to the best of us and it can also happen to your cat. Motion sickness is common among passengers on a boat so it is best to be prepared for it. You can check out my article here about preventing motion sickness in cats. Most of the motion happens at lower levels below the deck. Try keeping your cat up top to allow for more air and less motion if it becomes an issue. If motion sickness to your cat more often then not, then you should probably start leaving him at home for these kind of trips.
Keep an Eye on Your Cat
This is a huge safety concern. Always make sure you know where your cat is at all times. Whether he is blow deck or on top. Make sure to secure all the items on your boat that could potentially bounce around or fall on your cat. Loose items on a boat are very dangerous to a roaming cat. If you decide to keep your cat above deck for most of the boat ride, then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have some time of tethering device like a leash or harness to help keep him safe during rocky times.
Proper Packing for Sailing with a Cat
Make sure you plan your travel bags appropriately. Make a small list of all your cat’s needs. These can include things from water, food, pet passport, toys, blankets, furniture, and any other items that you deem necessary. If you plan on sailing on a commercial boat, make sure you know about all their pet policies. Don’t forget the essentials like a litter box and a good cat carrier.